In this course, I have learned that, for personal and professional applications, I have a story to tell, and that story can be used to entertain, persuade, educate, and inspire my audience. I have also learned that the way I communicate is important too. I need to make sure that I write clearly, concisely and concretely so that my message is communicated in an efficient but descriptive manner. Tone, spelling, grammar, formatting and writing in an active voice are important too.
I have learned that my audience is comprised of a diverse group of people, differing in age, gender, culture, religion, beliefs, values, interests and goals, and it is my responsibility to compose my message in a way that meets their needs. The purpose of my communication with my audience matters too: If I am communicating with consumers (B2C), businesses (B2B), or the government (B2G), my communication style and my purpose will be different with each.
I now know that my purpose and audience will determine my communication tool. I could use a blog to provide up-to-date knowledge and information to my customers and position myself as a thought leader in my field. I could use email marketing to develop long-term relationships with customers and business allies. I could use Twitter and Facebook to engage and participate with my audience. LinkedIn, podcasting, Pinterest, Reddit are also available to me to share my story with my audience.
I have learned that it is important to cultivate my online brand, my online reputation so that it will bolster how people can reach me and I can reach them, and add value to what I do and how I do it. My brand in itself carries a message of who I am, what I stand for, and what it is like to work with/for me.
I’ve learned that as important as it is to have a strong brand, to know my purpose, and to utilize an audience-centered approach to communicating, the content of my story is of paramount importance. If I want my story, my business, my message to stand out from the plethora of content created daily online, I need to ensure my message contains a purpose, relevance to the reader, and an opportunity for my audience to participate. Furthermore, I need to tell stories that are personal, compelling, entertaining, that humanize my business, and appeal to the emotions of my audience. This requires taking a wide angle view to storytelling, one that considers depth-of-view and juxtaposition.
Ultimately though, in this course, I’ve learned that what both the message sender and receiver, or storyteller and audience want, is an authentic, human connection when communicating. We want to be able to share, listen, ask, answer, and exchange information, regardless of purpose. And what both sides of the communication process want is to share their unique story with each other, the story that makes them who they are, how they got to where they are, and where they want to go from here.
I plan to use this information when I take over our family landscaping company. I want to tell the story of who we are. I want to tell the story of a young boy who grew up in Ireland, admiring the timeless natural stone walls that lined roadways and fields, who told himself that one day he would build a wall that would stand for just as long. That little boy moved to Canada where, as a grownup he began landscaping, creating beautiful, liveable spaces that not only people have enjoyed for years, but also contain a small piece of his Irish heritage. I want to tell the story of a man who takes absolute pride in what he does, who goes to work every day with a smile on his face because he is truly passionate about what he does. I want to tell the story of a man who cares more about doing the best job he can for his clients than about making money. I want to tell this story, and I want to be the author and subject of the next chapter.